609 SMEs: From Smackdown to Nirvana

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM Thursday, October 1



Subject matter experts (SMEs) are the lifeline of our work as instructional designers, trainers, and facilitators of learning. They bring the content to life and provide both relevance and context. Our goal should be to ensure the working relationship is the best that it can be. However, we are often speaking different languages to each other, causing the instructional design process—and, more importantly, communication—to break down. 

In this session, you will learn methods for improving communication between you and your SMEs and ways to change up the questions you ask to improve the responses you receive. You will explore seven SME archetypes and the challenges of working with each type, as well as the importance of speaking their language and losing the instructional design lingo and jargon you’ve become accustomed to.

In this session, you will learn:

  • How to identify the various SME archetypes and ways of managing through the challenges each type presents
  • How to discern methods for improving communication between you and your SMEs
  • How to change the types of questions you ask your SMEs to respond to
  • How to replace instructional design lingo and jargon for clarity and SME understanding

Novice to advanced designers, developers, project managers, and managers.

Technology discussed in this session:

Dawn Mahoney


Learning In the White Space

Dawn J. Mahoney CPTD is a talent development professional who is passionate about developing people through better learning content, better learning strategy, and better dialog. In 2015, Dawn founded Learning In the White Space, a boutique consultancy devoted to planning a learning strategy and bringing it to life. Dawn writes the "Last Word" column in Training Magazine and is the author of Lean Learning Using the ADDIE Model.

Andrea May

VP Instructional Design Services

Dashe & Thomson

Andrea May is the vice president of instructional design services for Dashe & Thomson. Andrea has 18 years of experience consulting, designing, developing, and delivering customized training programs for large organizations. Her early career was spent leading documentation and training efforts for organizations such as General Mills, Thomson Reuters, and Saudi Aramco as they implemented SAP at US locations and abroad. Since 2009, Andrea has designed and managed the development of national certified employee training programs for the propane industry. She also holds a master of fine arts degree in directing from the University of California, Irvine.

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